Writing Lesson 20 – Get Inside Their Heads

Point of View Makes All the Difference

When you and your sibling have a disagreement and tell your stories to a parent, you learn firsthand the difference someone’s point-of-view can have on the way he or she sees the same basic set of events. Your brother’s version of how grandma’s prized antique vase got broken may not be the same as yours – even if the two of you were practicing football tackles together in the living room where the vase was displayed.

Using the power of point of view can make your writing jump off the page – and may give you an “ah ha!” as you dig into your characters’ motivations. Here’s a great point of view exercise you can try to explore the “why” behind a sibling conflict of Biblical proportions.

  • Read Genesis 37 several times in order to become familiar with the flow of the story.
  • Choose one of the three primary characters in the story (Joseph, Reuben or Jacob/Israel) and list the things that happened in the story from his perspective. Pay close attention to what your character knew and did at this point in his history. For example, Reuben didn’t know that Joseph had wandered looking for them from Shechem to Dothan. Joseph, of course, had no idea that his brothers were going to jump him and dump him into a pit.  Jacob, also known as Israel, never would have imagined that his brood was capable of such treachery. 
  • Use your outline to write a first-person account of the events of Genesis 37, having your character (Joseph, Reuben or Jacob/Israel) tell the story from his perspective. Make sure he is only telling about the events in which he was directly involved in the chapter. Remember, these characters didn’t know at this point how this story was going to turn out like we do!   

This exercise is even more useful if more than one person does it. If you have a sibling, a friend or even a co-op group each willing to do take different characters from the Biblical account and write about the events of Genesis 37, you’ll have an opportunity to hear the difference a point-of-view can make in a story.

About Michelle Van Loon

Author Michelle Van Loon home schooled her three children for 13 years. All three graduated from home school and are now young adults. Michelle began teaching groups of home schooled students in her local co:op what the Lord had taught her about writing. Over a decade ago, the success of these classes led to the launch of her home school writing tutorial business (www.homepagewriting.com).

Read more about Michelle.

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